A cat’s tail

Caesar’s preference for wagging his tail from side to side got me thinking about tails – not what the different movements mean, as I’ve already done a post on that, but tail sizes, shapes and more. Now, after some research, I have discovered that every cat’s tail, like cats themselves, is a different shape, size and thickness but, in general, a cat’s tail will be close to its body length. That means around an average of 11 inches (30 cm) for boy cats and 9.9 inches (25 cm) for girl cats. However, in some breeds, the size can be slightly smaller or larger than their body depending on what mix they are.

For example, the Egyptian Mau and Balinese cats are known to have very long tails, while the Bobcat and Manx breeds of kitty are famous for having almost no tail at all.

Cats use their tails to “talk”. Other cats can know what your cats are saying by looking at their body language, which is mostly conducted through their tails. The cat tail has around 20 vertebrae along it, which makes it very moveable. In fact, cats can move their tails in the opposite direction from the one they are going in and do that to centre themselves and keep their balance – using their tail like a tightrope walker uses a pole or bar.

What are our cats’ tails like?

Buffy is a British Tortoiseshell and her tail is short (only 9 inches) and wider at the base, her back, than it is at the ends. It kind of tails (forgive the pun) off into a delicate point at the tip and is smooth haired all the way along. I first noticed the tip was so pointed when Buffy would welcome me home with her tail standing to attention straight up and the tip quivering. This may sound tense but actually it means she is super excited to see me and very happy to have me home.

Buffy the Tortoiseshell’s tail

Caesar, is a Tuxedo cat and his tail is super long compared to his short, stumpy body (a whopping 10.5 inches) and very strong – I think because, being a puppy cat, he wags it all the time like a dog. It is wide at the base and then, like Buffy’s, turns into a pointed tip – but his is even more pointed than Buffy’s tail is. Caesar is also always happy when I get home, but he shows his excitement by wagging his whole tail from side to side, which is why we call him our puppy cat. We’ve also noticed that he has more and more grey/white hairs dotted throughout his tail and coat now, so we guess he is just at that greying age, as he’s getting older.

Caesar the Tuxedo’s tail

Our mini miaow, Loki, is a Mackarel Tabby and his tail is long (almost 13 inches), fairly heavy and wide (pretty much the same width all the way down, with a slightly smaller rounded nub at the end). Although it is smooth all the way down to the end, there are sections of poofy hair near the top and at the bottom. Loki is a tremendous climber and a very active outdoors cat, who uses his tail to keep his centre of gravity when scaling walls. Although I have also seen him lying on a tree branch, with is tail wrapped around, while he tries to capture the tip of it.

Loki the Mackarel Tabby’s tail

Our wee kitten, Ripley, is another Tuxedo cat – this time though with a tail that is slim and very long (9.5 inches). Her tail is also fluffy and soft all the way down. As she hasn’t been out as much as, or for as long as, Loki, she’s still figuring out how best to use it when scaling walls and staying on narrow fencing. I’ve seen her lose her balance and fall off more times than she’s succeeded at staying up. She is getting better though and Loki is teaching her everything he knows, so she’ll be a proper adventure kitty just like her brother come summer I’m sure.

Ripley the little Tuxedo’s tail

Want to know more about why cats like our Caesar wag their tales? Find out here: http://www.mymoggiesandme.co.uk/cats-wag-tails/

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